Globe Theatre Pictures

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Globe Theatre, London

Globe Theatre, London - Exterior
Outside the Globe Theatre, London Globe Theatre, London - Exterior. Photo © Pawel Libera

The Globe Theatre in London was founded by the American actor and director Sam Wanamaker and is used as an international destination to discover the work of Shakespeare. Visitors can enjoy traditional theater and the playhouse along with ongoing talks, lectures and events. With a focus on education, Shakespeare's Globe provides events, classes, research and resources for teachers, families and a diverse set of people.

A Brief History

The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from The Theatre, an earlier theater built by the Burbage family. The most well-known plays performed at the Globe included Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Twelfth Night. The original Globe Theatre in London was demolished in 1644 after it fell into disuse during the Puritan era. This important building was lost for centuries until the original foundations were rediscovered in 1989. In the mid-1990s, the Globe Theatre London was reconstructed using traditional materials and techniques just a few hundred yards away from the original site.

Explore Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in this digital photo tour, where pictures from this outstanding building can give you a real insight into the world of William Shakespeare.

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Wooden O

Wooden O – Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Wooden O – Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Photo © John Tramper

This photo really shows why Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is referred to as a “Wooden O” in the prologue from Henry V:

Or may we cram within this wooden O the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt?

Because the building was seen as circular and made of wood, Shakespeare nicknamed his theater "The Wooden O" back in the day. In fact, the building is not circular. It is an octagonal shape measuring 100 feet in diameter and built three stories high.

How It Was Used

In Shakespeare’s time, the building held around 3,000 spectators. Today, this is limited to around 1,500 people. The theater was designed this way because at the time actors had to use natural light to put on a play, as there was no other form of light for nighttime performances. The seats in the theater were typically arranged by social class so that higher classes had the best seats and performance view. Due to the circular shape, the best seats were higher while the worst ones were generally located in the middle.

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Elizabethan Theatre

Elizabethan Theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Elizabethan Theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Photo © Manuel Harlan

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre gives us a fascinating glimpse into the world of Elizabethan theater. Also known as English Renaissance theater or early modern English theater, performances in England from 1562 and 1642 included plays from Shakespeare, Marlow and Jonson. Playwrights and poets were the leading artists during this time as the theater became the way of socializing in the sixteenth century. 

Making Noise Was Commonplace

The theater experience was very different back then. Audiences would talk, eat and sometimes brawl during performances. Today, audiences tend to be better behaved, but the Globe Theatre gives us first-hand experience of Elizabethan theater.

The trust stage and high seating areas brought the performer and spectator into close proximity, where performances were often played out in the afternoon for two to three hours. Shakespeare’s language is very direct and designed for the Elizabethan theater space.